Which is better, several small starters or a big one - Home Brew Forums
Register Now For Free!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Fermentation & Yeast > Which is better, several small starters or a big one

Thread Tools
Old 01-23-2014, 12:35 AM   #1
Dec 2012
Posts: 69
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

I want to know what makes more cells,
making several small starters, or creating one large one.

I want to pitch about 1-1.5 liters for my next beer. say i make 750 ML starters and use 250 ML as my yeast source for the next starter. so in 3 days of creating starters, i have 1.5 liters of yeast starter ready to go


should i make a single 1.5 liter starter?

to me it seems like a single vial of yeast would have trouble propagating to the same number of cells in a 24 hour period, as it would in 3 days (3 successive starters) even if they had a larger original volume (breathing room) for the initial 24 hours

i mean, do yeast really worry about what concentration of cells there is in a given volume, or do they just propagate like crazy in the first 24 hours (or so) and then switch to anaerobic production.

If they dont care about volume then i know the answer:

for instance (and these numbers are not scientific)
If yeast can only reproduce a certain number of times in a given amount of time you can introduce 100b cells (a vial) into a starter (volume does not matter), say yeast can double their cell count in 24 hours. so now in 1 day you have 200B. and then you do it again and again and end up with mindboggling ammounts of cells

small batches sound like they are the way to go. BUT, if they do care about volume, then i am not sure. (ie, do they get more efficient at repoduction if they have more breathing room)

100B cells into 1L might make 200B cells in 24 hours, but might make 400B in a 2L starter just because the yeast are more comfortable.

anyone know an answer?

Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2014, 04:06 AM   #2
Jan 2011
Atlanta, GA
Posts: 304
Liked 18 Times on 14 Posts

1 starter.

less stress on yeast
Less chance of infection
Less hassle

CA_Mouse Likes This 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2014, 04:56 AM   #3
May 2011
Medford, WI
Posts: 7,261
Liked 1276 Times on 1063 Posts

Yeastcalc will give you the growth factor of your starter. I had asked the same question.
So far the answer has been that it is not known if large growth factors have any adverse effect on yeast cell health.

Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2014, 05:01 AM   #4
kh54s10's Avatar
Aug 2011
Tiverton, Rhode Island
Posts: 11,908
Liked 1950 Times on 1597 Posts

If you don't need to do stepped starters, why would you want to make things more complicated?

I have to do step starters when I use my frozen yeast bank. I am starting from just 5 ml yeast.

Reply With Quote
Old 01-23-2014, 09:30 AM   #5
WoodlandBrew's Avatar
Oct 2012
Malden, MA
Posts: 2,191
Liked 247 Times on 201 Posts

Yeast are typically 15um in diameter. That's 0.000015 meters or 0.0005 inches. The size of the container as almost no effect on growth. The only factor that significantly effects cell propagation is the amount of available extract. For typical fermentations 1 gram of extract is converted to 1 billion cells.

Less containers means less chances of introducing an infection.

Lots of more info on my blog and in my book.
The 2nd edition is now available: Brewing Engineering
Woodland Brewing Research Blog Applied Science for Better Beer.

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Why must starters be so large? Not understanding the concept of liter + starters davidgsmit Fermentation & Yeast 9 01-11-2013 07:29 AM
Perfect small pot for starters? Link within... bighorn_brew General Beer Discussion 5 11-30-2012 05:00 AM
Yeast Starters-Skip small starter? tcnguru General Techniques 3 08-23-2010 06:41 PM
Will Two small starters work? TVarmy Beginners Beer Brewing Forum 5 03-21-2010 01:53 PM
using open small fridge to cool small insulated closet? Budzu Fermenters 16 03-18-2009 10:05 PM

Forum Jump